Mid April on the Missouri

Well TAX Day has come and gone and the spring season is really starting to take shape. We’ve seen our best first half of April ever thanks to adverse water conditions elsewhere though now that things have settled on the west side traffic has thinned a bit for the time being.

We’re under a winter weather advisory once again today with light snow falling but it looks like we’re finally going to see some nicer weather with temps approaching 70 by Friday before returning to more seasonable 50’s for the weekend.I’m definitely ready for some 70 degree days but these cool spring temps are exactly what we need right now to keep things in shape going forward.

Flows on the MO are on the high side for April, currently at around 8600 CFS which isn’t ideal for the wade anglers but fishing from the boat has been good most days, great some days and tough on others which is usually how it goes. Overall though spring is delivering.

As you might expect, river conditions have been the hot topic as of late. Everyone wants to know what the flows will be when they get here. The jury is still out on that.

April max flow conditions from the Bureau of Reclamation have already been exceeded with our current flows but even so, snow pack is hovering in the average to slightly above average range so we aren’t expecting to see a repeat of last year’s 20,000 CFS.

Last year around this time

2019 – All about the averages

As always, the wild card will be precipitation. Snow to an extent but rain for the most part will determine where we end up.
Last year at this time we were looking at snowpack in the 180% of average range so we were expecting to see a high water event. Current snowpack isn’t telling that kind of a story but again, if we see an exceptionally rainy spring then all bets are off.

On the bright side last year’s high water provided a much needed scouring of the substrate and we’re optimistic that the river reaped huge benefits from this scouring. Will we see Caddis Nirvana on the MO this season? Only time will tell.

Dry fly opportunities have been minimal but nymphing and streamer fishing are a go. Tailwater sows, Fish Finder Worms, Caviar Scuds, Rainbow Czechs, Amex, Firebead Rays, UV Crush, Bubble Yum Scuds, Pill Poppers, Zebra Midges and soft hackle sows have all been go to choices as of late and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to try a green machine or a BWO Magic Fly just to switch things up.

Deep and slow is still a go but transitional water is in play. The water is still on the cold side but should start to bump up with warmer days and nights ahead which will get those fish moving around and spreading out. Rainbows may be scarce as spawning is in full swing (watch those redds when wading) but this is the perfect time to target those hungry browns with a streamer….just sayin!

We’re moderately busy this week with lodging and doing a fair amount of guide trips but we have rooms and guides at the ready if you’d like to come out and spend a day or two on one of the best trout rivers in North America. Look for things to steadily pick up as we hit the end of April into the heart of spring fishing in early May. You’ve got exactly two weeks to take advantage of $400 guide trips and $99 premium lodging. Starting May 1st that trip will cost you $550 and the rooms go up to $135/night.

Welcome to spring on the Missouri. We can’t wait to see you.

Not so fast…

Streamer Eaters on the Prowl

Just when we were getting used to spring sunshine and temperatures in the 50’s Mother Nature shows us again that she’s in charge and she’s not quite done with winter weather.

We’re currently in the midst of a good soaking rain and under a WINTER STORM WARNING starting tonight, primarily for elevations above 5,000 feet where 6-12 inches of new snow is expected. We won’t see that here but we’re bracing for a cold, wet snowy day on the water tomorrow.

Lucky for you we’ve got plenty of Simms cold weather gear still hanging around the shop and better yet it’s all 30 percent off!

And speaking of SIMMS – spring is definitely wader weather and there are no better waders in the world than Simms waders so if you’re in the market for a new pair we’d love to sell them to you. We stock G3’s, Freestones and Tributaries (something in every price range) and the boots to go with them and we’re happy to order absolutely anything else you might want including boot foot models or G4’s or G4Z’s, which are the ultimate in wader technology and quality.

It’s a busy week here at WCA in spite of the soggy weather. The west side blew out Sunday night bringing an influx of guides and outfitters and their clients in search of fishable water and it just so happens the Missouri fits the bill and we’re happy to host the migration.

The river is fishing well, with the majority of traffic in the Holter Dam to Craig stretch. LPP and the Dearborn are adding some color but not so much that it’s having a negative impact on the fishing. Most are opting to fish the clean side but don’t be afraid to work the mud line with a worm and a sow bug or better yet a streamer if you are so inclined.

In my mind there is no better time to fish streamers on the MO than April and these soggy/cloudy/snowy days can be lights out. Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultras or Ultralites, Mojo minnows, Clousers, Skiddish Smolts…..angler’s choice this time of year. Fish what you like and stick with it.

Nymphing the dam down is your best bet for numbers. The aforementioned worm and sow bug are key. Pill poppers, UV Crush, Caviar Scuds, Lucent Bead Rays, Soft Hackle Sows, Pinkalicious, Rainbow Czechs, Bubble Yums, Cotton Candies, Amex…..all good choices.

The water is still on the cold side at right around 37 degrees so the majority of the fish are continuing to hold in the deeper, slower water but we’ve picked plenty up in the transitional water as well so don’t limit your options.

Flows have bumped to the 6500 range….we love 6-8K and the river does too.

It’s game-time…are you ready?

The Missouri River awakening continues this week as Izaak’s opens on Thursday, April 11th for season number nine. We can’t wait! Brisket Sandwich and Smoked Wings oh how I’ve missed you.

Izaak’s will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but open for divinely delicious dinner offerings Wednesday-Sunday 4 PM – 9 PM. Dinner at Izaak’s is a highlight of the trip for many and we are thrilled to have this world-class dining option here on the Missouri.

It’s going to be a soggy week here on the MO but it looks like we’ll see a return to more seasonable conditions by the weekend.

We’ve got lodging available for the weekend ($99 for a kitchenette, $75-$85 for non-kitchen rooms) and our $400 spring special guide trips are in full swing. Book yours today!

 

Finally…A Farewell to February

Coming Soon?

The shortest month of the year feels like it’s been the longest as winter drags on with no end in sight.

March will pick up right where February left off with single digit temps through the weekend and into the first part of next week but then it looks like something might just be starting to happen. Things could change between now and then but at this point it looks like we’ll be bathed in sunshine Sunday through Tuesday and while the temps will be far from warm we all know how good that late winter sun feels.

We’ll climb into the 20’s on Wednesday and Thursday and near 30 on Friday. Is it a warming trend? Here’s hoping so!

We’re thankful to have made up for winter’s slow start with plenty of precipitation throughout the last month but I for one have had just about enough. I’ve had enough of shoveling snow. I’ve had enough of fighting ice dams on the roof. I’ve had enough of NOT FISHING!

Snowpack has edged up to 110 – 120 percent of normal in our region and most of the state looks good right now at or near 100 percent of average. Only the Kootenai and the Sun, Teton and Marias drainages are lagging behind but  are currently right around 90 percent of average. We like the looks of this map and we’re remaining cautiously optimistic that high water will not be an issue however Mother Nature always gets the final say on this so no guarantees here.

Ideally we’d see a return to normal temperatures sooner rather than later. The average high for February is 39 degrees, we’ve seen highs in the single digits or below zero more days than not this month. The average high for March is 47. We obviously won’t see that the first week of the month but sooner or later it has to warm up and when it does we’re expecting an extremely busy spring as the throngs arrive to satisfy that long-delayed Missouri River Fix.

And speaking of spring fishing, don’t forget it’s time to buy your 2019 Montana fishing license. 2018 licenses expire tomorrow.

Sadly we still have no fishing report to share but as you look towards the eventuality of spring fishing here’s what you need to know.

Water temps are currently holding in the 33 degree range….COLD! We would expect much of March to be full on winter fishing as far as the nymphing goes. Slow, deep water is what you’ll want to target with winter fare. Pink should be in the mix along with firebeads, tailwater sows, Yum Yums, Caviar Scuds, Zebra Midges, Rainbow Czechs, Soft Hackle Sows, Lightning Bugs, Ray Charles etc. Fish deep with weight (tungsten bead nymphs or split shot or both) and cover the water from the inside out, shortening the depth of your rig until you find where they’re at.

Warming water will get them moving at which time we’ll start to key in on the traditional spring hot spots, typically a little faster current with a little less depth. We like to run sowbugs all season long as they’re a constant food source but as we move into spring we will typically swap out the winter fare for mayfly nymphs and maybe even a dirt snake. Little Green Machines and the like tend to shine as the water conditions hit the spring prime.

Spring is brown trout time as the spawning rainbows become scarce. Watch those redds and please don’t target spawning fish. Late March through April and into the first part of May are the prime weeks for streamer fishing on the Missouri. We can’t wait!

Spring is also dry fly time as the Midge Machine churns out piles of bugs. We typically start fishing midges in late February but since nobody has been on the river harassing and educating the fish this year, those first few fishable days could be lights out with relatively easy pickings.
Don’t care for fishing midges? Spring is also Skwalla time so if throwing big dries is your thing don’t miss this opportunity. Many of the larger browns we catch each spring fall for the Skwalla.

I think we could be in for one phenomenal spring if this weather ever breaks and while it’s tough to shift gears to fishing mode while winter continues to have a stranglehold, it’s coming soon so there’s no time like the present to prepare.
It’s time to dig out your gear and get it organized. It’s a great time to replace those old, worn fly lines and this is the spring you should treat yourself to a new pair of Simms waders and boots. We’d be happy to help you with that!

How about a brand new Lamson, Ross or Redington reel or maybe a new LOOP, Redington or Echo rod. We’ve also got a limited supply of Nautilus reels we’re clearing out at 25% off. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

Great deals on Simms winter wear including Cold Weather Pants and Shirts and guide flannels….all 25 % off. Help us make space for the new gear arriving daily.

Remember spring is also time for the WCA Spring lodging and guide trip special….we guarantee it’s the best deal you’ll find on the MO’ and it’s happening right now!

$500 for two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler and a full day guide trip for one or two anglers through the end of April. This same package will cost you over $800 starting May 1st so don’t miss this opportunity.

 

January Water Report

Perhaps it’s a little early to start talking about what we’ll see for water this spring but since we’ve already been fielding plenty of calls on the subject here’s what we know.

Snowpack across western Montana is currently sitting in the 80-90% of normal range. It could be much worse but the fact is we could use some precipitation. Following record precipitation last year, this winter has been a return to what has unfortunately become somewhat of the new normal.

The January long term forecast is for above average temperatures and below average precipitation which could translate into a busy month of fishing on the Missouri while those waiting for the ice to form on Holter Lake may be waiting all winter long.

We’re thankful for any business we get during the long winter months so we’ll take the traffic but here’s hoping for some major precipitation over the next couple of months.

Regardless of snowpack, we’re anticipating a great year ahead on the Missouri. River flow predictions are calling for a likely scenario of flows holding steady in the 4,500 CFS range through the winter months and peaking in the 6,000 CFS range in May and June.  This is great news to the wade anglers who missed out on fishing the Missouri last spring.

Max flow predictions show flows holding in the 4500 CFS range through February and then bumping up around 1000 CFS each month through June with a peak in the 10,000 CFS range while the minimum flow predictions show a steady drop in flow over the winter, leveling off in the 3500 CFS range beginning in April and holding there for the remainder of the season. This is not ideal. Let’s hope we see the most probable scenario (or max probable) play out.

We’re anxious to see what effect last season’s high water scrubbing is going to have on the hatches this year. It could be an epic dry fly year on the Missouri! Will we see the caddis explosion that has occurred following high water years in the past? Only time will tell. One thing looks fairly certain however, that being that we will actually have dry fly fishing before July. We missed much of the traditional dry fly prime time last season so we’re anxious for some BWO and PMD activity.

As per usual this is all speculation. We’re using the best information we have available to loosely predict what we might see this spring but Mother Nature always has the last word.

We’re not climatologists, we just sell fish hooks for a living so we’re content to leave the actual business of forecasting to the experts. We’ll keep you up to date on snowpack and flow conditions all winter long but at this point it definitely feels like it could be a return to dry fly nirvana on the MO in 2019.

In the meantime winter fishing is HOT right now. The nymphing is good to great depending on the day and streamers have been effective both on the swing and the strip. We’ve seen some midge activity with sporadic feeding. If we continue to see mild conditions throughout the winter expect good midge fishing as early as late January and throughout February and March.

We’ve been busy with lodging and have been getting a lot of calls about our winter lodging and guide trip special. The rumors are true! $500 for a full day guided float trip on the MO and TWO nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. Our lodging options are quite limited during the winter so things tend to fill up quickly. If the mild weather persists and the demand is there we may look at opening more lodging up sooner rather than later. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime – give us a call and book your cure to cabin fever today and while you’re at it, make those spring/summer plans if you haven’t done so already. Prime dates are filling fast.

2019 Off to a Fishy Start

New Year on the fly. Photo by Matt Hargrave

One week into 2019 and we’re off to a fishy start having done our earliest ever guide trips on January 3rd. It looks like we’re in for a mild winter so hopefully we’ll be running a bunch more trips and while we may be losing out on some lodging for the ice fishing crowd (zero ice on Holter to date) I think we’ll more than make up for it with river traffic.

The Wolf Creek Bridge parking lot looked like July this weekend with rigs filling the pretty yellow lines. It’ll be interesting to see how that all works out this spring when things are going full bore. At this point, with around a dozen rigs in the lot (roughly half full), it felt a little crowded but I’m sure everyone will adjust just fine this spring when it’s all about the peace and harmony.

The forecast is calling for highs in the 40’s for the majority of the ten-day outlook with no high wind warnings and zero chance for precipitation in the mix (though it is howling today with 40 mph gusts). The January outlook is for above average temperatures with below average precipitation which means there’s no time like the present to book yourself a winter guide trip with Wolf Creek Angler.

$500 for a full day Missouri River guided float trip for one or two anglers AND two nights of premium lodging all winter long! Guide trips only with no lodging are $400 and lodging with no guide trip is $99/night plus tax. Try to find a better deal on the Missouri…. I guarantee you won’t.

Winter fishing techniques are a go. Deep nymphing and swinging or slow stripping streamers are what you should be doing from here on out.

Deep, slow water…. double nymph rig 7’ – 9’ overall with or without split shot (your call). I like a #12 Pink Amex or Rainbow Czech paired with a #16 or #18 caviar scud, Petersen’s Sow, Pink Lucent bead Ray, Tailwater Sow, soft hackle sow, Zebra Midge, Pill Popper, UV Crush, Cotton Candy etc. They’re all good. They’ll all catch fish if the time is right and you get them in the zone.

The best time of day has been in the 10:30 am – 2:30 pm zone. Nighttime lows are dropping into the 20’s so no point in starting any earlier than 10 am. Let things warm up a bit, you’ll be glad you did. Predictably, most of the traffic has been in the upper stretches but with things being as mild as they are there’s no reason you shouldn’t be fishing below Craig or right on down through the canyon.

Hot head Kreelex, Brown and Yellow Kreelex, Skiddish Smolt and Polar Leeches in various flavors have been the go-to options for swinging. I’m still stripping Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultra and Ultralites, Dirty Hippies and D & D’s and occasionally trailing a Polar Leech off any of them and moving plenty of fish.

There have been plenty of folks staking out their claims and swinging out there and there’s been no shortage of walk/wade nymphers as well. If you’re fishing from a boat, be courteous and grant them their space. It may be busy by winter standards but there’s miles of good water. No need to crowd anyone.

The water temperature is holding steady in the 35-degree range which is right about where it should be. The fish are not going to expend a lot of energy chasing down a meal whether it’s a nymph or a streamer though I’ve found that you’re much more likely to entice the chase with a streamer when they’re looking for a quick calorie fix.

Once again, whether nymphs or streamers you’ll want to get them deep enough that the fish don’t have to move much for them. If streamers are your thing you should be dredging right now and stripping ever so slowly.

Embrace winter fishing on the MO’. After all, spring is still a long way off and you can’t sit inside all winter long. Make plans to escape to Wolf Creek and enjoy winter solitude on the Missouri. The shop still closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but we’re always open for lodging and guide trips and speaking of that…have you booked your dates for spring and summer yet? If you haven’t you should. Prime dates are filling fast.

Long Awaited Missouri River Fishing Report

 

For whatever reason I haven’t fished the Missouri much these past few weeks, save a couple of short walk in outings.

December is definitely the slowest month traffic wise on the Missouri but it’s not because it doesn’t fish. The short cold days of December find many busy with the holidays and for a lot of guides, outfitters and shop owners December truly is the end of the season which means it’s time to catch up on end-of-the year paperwork and other such unfishy things.

Counting flies, completing and submitting outfitter logs and begging folks to come out and deplete shop inventory are a few things I’ve been doing. A lot of guides have winter jobs which are typically in full swing by now so we just don’t see much activity during the month of December.

Once the holidays have passed cabin fever starts to set in and a break in the weather will typically bring them out in droves but for now all is quiet.

While looking at the unseasonably warm forecast for this week I decided I really needed to get back on the water. So far this winter most of my days off have coincided with cold temps, wind, domestic projects, lethargy or all of the above. On the days I’ve thought about fishing the weather has changed my mind but with a few winter trips coming up and a fish shaped hole in my constitution I decided Monday was the day.

WCA/Iron Fly guide Brad Turner and I battled a bit of wind but for the most part had very mild weather, at least by December standards. We skipped the dam and opted for the Wolf Creek Bridge to Stickney run intent on devoting a good part of the day to streamer fishing.

Winter water and winter nymphs are producing though it certainly wasn’t lights out. A half-hearted effort perhaps but we were content to pick up a few fish just to affirm the water and bug selection prior to moving on to the big bugs.

Winter is the season of status quo as far as nymphing goes. Rainbow Czechs, Pink Amex, Pill Poppers, Rainbow Weight flies, Tailwater sows, black Zebra midges, Soft Hackle Sows, Firebead anything, UV Crush, Bubble Yums, Cotton Candies, Pinkalicious, Yum Yums, Pink Lucent Bead Rays….you know the drill. Whatever you do adjust depth and weight before getting carried away with changing bugs. You can often run the same bugs for weeks at a time.

Seeing as we were mostly interested in streamer fishing we soon switched rigs and had good action from the start with Brad picking up a nice bow and a good brown within the first mile of water. Things slowed a bit after those first two fish but we did have several stretches where we lit them up. Brad got em’ on the D & D’s and I powered through a couple of slow at-bats with the JJ Sparkle Minnow before they honed in for last light.

A solid day all around with six or eight to the boat, moving another dozen or thereabouts. More bows than browns this time around but you never know what you’re going to get.

Winter is typically swing season on the MO’ thanks to our friends downriver who have pretty much singlehandedly created the two hand Trout Spey craze which has done nothing but grow since I’ve been here. Kudos to Headhunters Fly Shop for creating an entirely new market on the Missouri. It’s a super effective method and an entirely different way to fish.

I have yet to board that train preferring instead to stick with what I know and LOVE which is streamer fishing of the single hand variety. I prefer covering long stretches of water, fishing from the boat with big heavy lines, big bugs and stripping more than swinging though swinging certainly has its moments. Mind you I have nothing against the Trout Spey game, it’s just not my thing (as of yet).

When I first came to the Missouri I was told by many that it wasn’t a great streamer river. I was told that Intermediate lines and small streamers were what was most effective and while this may be the case from a numbers standpoint I think folks are limiting themselves with that mentality.

Is the Missouri a great streamer river? It depends how you define “great” but to me moving 20 fish in a day and hooking a third or more of those is pretty great. The biggest fish I ever caught on the MO’ came on a hopper but outside of that the majority of big fish I catch are caught on streamers.

Will they eat big streamers? You bet. Again, you might increase your numbers fishing smaller bugs but I’m of the mindset that if you’re hunting big fish you should be running big bugs. I hooked the fish above on a #4 Sparkle Minnow. This was an average sized brown (17” give or take) already in the process of consuming about a 6” rainbow which apparently wasn’t quite enough of a meal.

It’s quite possible that the majority of the diet of these fish on the MO consists of smaller leeches and bait fish but that doesn’t change the fact that they are opportunistic feeders and that they are predators. Put a big bug in front of the right fish and he’s going to eat it. The bigger the bug the bigger the fish? Not necessarily but odds are that the bigger fish are going to target the bigger meals. Sure they’ll eat the small stuff too but in my mind by running bigger bugs I’m minimizing the odds of hooking smaller fish and maximizing the odds of hooking a beast.

I like to dredge and I like to hit every nook and cranny of any kind of bank structure. I like to work the buckets and the tailouts and soft edges near the bank. I like to switch up the retrieve until I find what works and to a lesser extent I like to change bugs and colors but truth be told I have my go-to bugs which seem to work more often than not and you’ll usually find I’ve got one of these half dozen or so offerings rigged and ready at any given time. That being said like most streamer junkies I’m a sucker for bugs that swim so if it darts and dives and flounders like the wounded bait fish it’s supposed to mimic I’m all over it.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of days they simply aren’t interested in chasing streamers and on these days you always have the option of bobber fishing but more often than not I’ll throw streamers all day long regardless if that’s what we set out to do.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll get in line with the Trout Spey set but for now there’s nowhere I’d rather be than standing in the bow of a drift boat, 7 or 8 weight in hand trying to coax monster browns up from the depths or out from the cover. I live for this. A close second however would be sitting in the rower’s seat serving up prime water to someone just as obsessed as I am with the streamer game.

I will say that this is my preferred time to fish streamers. Now until the weeds return next summer is prime streamer time and while the fish may be a little on the lethargic side as the water temps drop it makes it all that much more challenging and rewarding to coax them in to attacking.

Single hand, two handed, streamers, bobbers….do what you like and don’t miss out on what can sometimes be truly epic winter fishing on the Missouri.

Early December on the MO

Winter Solitude on the MO’

All has gone quiet on the Missouri save the wingbeats of the waterfowl and the occasional volley of shotgun blasts.

Winter is taking hold.

The water temps have dropped into the high 30’s and with single digit overnight temps expected ice will start to be an issue on the lower reaches of the river.

It’s time to turn your attention to the winter water. Deep and slow. That’s where you will find them. Deep rigs with a bb or two and something pink….there’s your Missouri River winter nymphing rig. Use it from here on out all winter long.

Fishing pressure has been close to non-existent and I wouldn’t expect that to change much for the time being though with temps climbing back near 40 this weekend and into next week you might see a few folks out there looking for a winter fix.

December is definitely our slowest month of the year. People generally put fishing on the back burner during the holidays and we don’t see a lot of holiday shopping traffic as most people stick closer to home to do their shopping. That being said, for those willing to make the trip we’ve got all kinds of great gift ideas and with end-of-the year pricing in effect we’ve got the deals you can’t afford to pass up on the good stuff.

We’re doing a Redington wader and boot blow out sale clearing the way for our spring shipment of Simms waders and boots which will arrive next month. Forty percent off all in-stock Redington waders and boots until they’re gone. We’ve got Palix, Sonic Pro, Sonic Pro HD, Sonic Pro HDZ, Women’s Sonic Pro, Women’s Willow, Women’s Siren and youth Crosswater waders. For boots we’ve got Skagit and Prowler as well as women’s Willow boots.

They’re going fast. Call or message the shop before you come out for current inventory.

Can’t make it out to Wolf Creek? No problem. We’re happy to ship anything anywhere.

In addition to the big Redington sale we’ve got great sale prices on all of our outerwear and sportswear and if you’re looking for a rod and reel look no further. 25% off all rod/reel combos now through the end of the year.

And while we’re talking about deals….don’t forget our winter guide trip and lodging special. $500 for a full day guide trip and two nights of premium lodging. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY is going to beat this deal!

If you don’t need the lodging winter trips are $400 for a full day for one or two anglers. If you don’t need the guide but do need lodging our winter rates are $99/night plus tax for premium lodging complete with full kitchen and private bath.

A few more weeks and we’ll be turning the corner. Longer days lie ahead. From what I’m hearing it sounds like we’re in for a somewhat mild winter. If so, we hope to be a part of your Missouri River winter fly fishing plans.

Late October Missouri River Fishing Report

Wolf Creek Bridge FAS is OPEN

We’ve been enjoying some gorgeous autumn weather these last several days though the fishing has slowed considerably.

We love the blue skies and sunshine, optimal conditions for showcasing the dwindling fall color show. The fish do not share our love for such days. The fish prefer the shadows.

That being said, there has been no shortage of opportunities to target rising fish, even on the sunniest of days if you know where to look.

A Sprout Baetis paired with cripple or emerger will get eaten as will a split wing BWO or a tried and true parachute Adams. An October Caddis makes a great strike indicator…the kind they like to eat! Drop a CDC Caddis Emerger or a zebra midge to up your odds and always make that first cast count. Matching the hatch can be important but presentation is critical. They’ll eat something other than the exact bug that’s on the water if it’s presented correctly. They won’t think about eating a poorly presented fly no matter how close to the natural it looks.

There are always exceptions to the rules but if you plan to consistently catch fish you have to make your first casts count. A ravenous pod of hungry trout on the Missouri is NOT the place for casting practice!

Nymphing reports have ranged from awesome to terrible, depending on location (and just maybe also depending on the skill level of the anglers). You end up hearing a lot of conflicting reports over the course of a day in the fly shop due in large part to the subjective nature of our sport.

It’s not uncommon to hear the extreme ends of the spectrum on any given day. “The water is really high” for one but “the water is as low as I’ve seen it” for another. “The slowest it’s ever been for us” often times coincides with “the best we’ve ever done here”.

The objective report is that nymphing is good. It was better prior to this streak of sunny days and it will likely be better once the clouds return but overall nymphing has been good and will always be your ticket to numbers.

Tailwater Sows have been money for me as of late, typically paired with a Rainbow Czech or beaded version of the Tailwater Sow but I’ve also had good luck with Pill Poppers, Firebead Rays, black Zebra Midges, Little Green Machines, Psycho Mays and plain old pheasant tails.
I’ve been running 5’ to split and not doing much in the way of depth adjustments. Many are finding success running shorter late in the day, I haven’t found a reason to do so. Keep it simple and don’t overthink it.

If you’re having a tough time finding fish take a look at the depth of your rig and the water you’re fishing before going crazy with bug changes.

Believe me, we’re all for people making bug changes. We’ve got thousands of bugs we think you should try but truth be told….it’s typically not the bug itself but rather where you’re fishing it. Even so, just like everywhere, there are a handful of go-to patterns on this river you should not be without…all of which are available for purchase every day at Wolf Creek Angler.

Streamer reports have been decent but once again, blue bird days are typically not your best bet for tossing the big bugs. Mornings have been decent before the sun hits the water and the long shadows of the afternoon into the early evening hours are good bets.

The water is still relatively warm (currently 52 degrees) so strip aggressively. They’re up for the chase and if you’re lucky the ATTACK! Expect plenty of short strikes and keep at it. Weeds are still a hindrance but they haven’t been horrible. There are angry browns lurking somewhere in the shadows. All you have to do is find them.

Try MK UltrasSparkle Minnows, Dirty Hippies, Autumn Splendors, Skiddish Smolts, Polar Leeches, Circus Peanuts, Mojo Minnows or anything else you believe in. We’ve been having our best luck with olive, natural and grey but don’t overlook white.

The entire river is fishing well right now. Best nymphing reports have come from the upper while we’ve found the better dry fly and streamer fishing to be below Craig. FYI – The Wolf Creek Bridge FAS is OPEN.

The fall season is in full swing and it will be over before you know it. Make your fall fly fishing getaway to the Missouri while there is still time.

Autumn has Finally Arrived

Fall has arrived

Here we are in the final days of September and while autumn just officially arrived last Saturday, in some ways summer seems like a very distant memory.

Most mornings have been dark and chilly and while we’ve continued to have some days with temps in the 70’s the chill returns early each evening.

Traffic has been steadily increasing since about the second week of September and while we’ll be winterizing rooms before we know it, we’re currently enjoying a full house more nights than not. I always enjoy the company during the fall knowing that in just six weeks or so the lonely days of the winter season will be upon us.

Soon the dark winter days of the canyon will commence and the shop will be starved of sunlight until spring. In the meantime we’re loving each and every sunny day.

The fishing has been good overall, though with the increase in traffic comes the increase in sub-par fishing reports. Guide reports have been good most days, DIY reports are always a mixed bag.

The river is in great shape right now, holding in that 4500 CFS range with water temps in the 60 degree range and dropping. We’re getting a fair amount of folks inquiring about the flows, feeling like they are higher than normal. This isn’t really the case as indicated by this chart which shows that we are currently just a few hundred CFS over the historical average.

We get a fair amount of wading anglers who prefer flows to be in the 3500 – 4000 cfs range which is great for accessing more spots but that being said, the river is VERY wadeable right now. You should always use extreme caution when wading any river but these flows are not considered dangerous.

Weeds are an ever-present challenge right now, but no worse than normal. Expect to encounter them and be vigilant about keeping your rigs clean. Weeds are part of the deal this time of year on the Missouri. Don’t let them get you down and don’t expect them to disappear anytime soon. They’ll be here throughout the fall fishing season but there’s no reason to let them ruin your day.

Dry fly fishing is a real possibility each day though we are in transition so expect this to improve from here on out. There have been multiple reports of BWO’s and you can expect to encounter pseudos, callibaetis and caddis as well. Terrestrials are definitely a possibility throughout the fall but we’ve all but closed the book on sub-par hopper season. Ants and beetles are still in the mix but keep your expectations low. We’re moving BWO’s front and center in the dry fly bins as we speak.

Nymphing will continue to produce. No big changes on the bug menu though we’ve definitely seen a shift towards rainbow Czechs as the point fly of choice. Purple weight flies are a close second and I wouldn’t hesitate to throw a pink Amex into the mix. Trail with a black zebra or your baetis nymph of choice. If those don’t work try a soft hackle sow or a tailwater sow. More often than not it’s more of a depth issue than a bug issue but sometimes you have to throw the kitchen sink at them.

It pretty much goes without saying that fall is streamer season so if that’s your thing then you should be here now! Yes, weeds complicate things but work through those issues and you’ll be rewarded. Who knows, that next cast might just miss every weed in its path and entice that 24” angry fall brown to strike. You won’t know if you don’t throw.

Streamer bins are full and we’re also fully stocked with cold weather gear from base layers to hats and gloves to jackets, waders, boots and more.

It’s been a busy month for guide trips and we expect October will be the same. We’ve got plenty of dates available for both the Missouri and the Blackfoot.

Don’t wait any longer, autumn is here…make your fall fishing plans today.

Mid September Fishing Report

We bid a final farewell to summer this week with the official start of fall arriving Saturday.

The Autumn chill has been in the air for a while now, especially in the mornings. You’ll want to layer up for sure.

The late summer fishing has been outstanding these past weeks and should remain strong from here on out.

On the dry fly side, Tricos are still in the mix but it’s feeling like that ship has all but sailed. Still a daily event but sporadic  at best.

The terrestrial game has been hit or miss this year with ants outperforming hoppers by a long shot. If you stick with the hoppers you’re bound to get an eat or two but trailing an ant has been the right call more often than not.

Hopper wise we’ve had decent action on Moorish and More or Less hoppers in peach, yellow, pink and tan with none of the above consistently out-producing any of the others. You can’t go wrong with purple chubbies. They seem to out-fish the hoppers every time.

Black parachute ants, sparkle ants and Blooms Stealth Ant in purple have all been effective ant options.

There have been enough caddis around daily that a #16 outrigger or plain old elk hair caddis paired with your ant of choice might just make you forget all about the hopper fishing. Hoppers are definitely fun to fish and the takes are awesome but lately your hook up odds have been better with a caddis or even a plain old, tried and true parachute Adams.  If you insist on fishing the bigger dries an October caddis wouldn’t be a bad call. I haven’t personally seen any bugs just yet but it’s time!

Nymphing wise the Zirdle craze may finally be reaching an end. I’m not quite ready to proclaim the death of the Zirdle, I tried that once a few weeks back and was proven grossly mistaken. It has definitely slowed though and I’ve actually had a few days where we ditched it altogether. That being said, they’re still selling well and I’m fairly confident that WCA may have the most comprehensive Zirdle selection in the canyon.

We’ve seen a shift towards rainbow Czechs and a return to Tailwater Sows and have also had a run on black zebra midges. Weight Flies in gold and purple have been consistently producing and Psycho Mays and LGM’s and Peep Shows are still go to options. Outliers have been October Caddis nymphs and Soft Hackle Hares Ear and PT jigs. Look for BWO Magic Flies and Split Case BWO’s to come into play sooner rather than later.

Streamers Anyone?

The streamer brigade has been at it consistently during the low light hours and overcast days and if these past two weeks are any indication we could be in for a fantastic fall streamer season on the MO this year.

Weeds have been a problem, especially in the canyon and will continue to present a real challenge throughout the fall but as we’ve said before if you know that going in and you don’t let the frustration get the best of you it goes a long way towards making your time on the water more enjoyable.

It can be tedious work but it’s imperative that you keep your bugs clean (applies to dries and nymphs as well). Trout don’t like salad on their bugs. If you’re dragging weeds around you are pretty much guaranteed not to catch anything and what a shame it would be to have your perfect placement and/or perfect drift negated by weeds on your bugs.

I haven’t observed a lot of streamer fishing going on out there (aside from that occurring in my boat) but judging by the abundance of empty spaces in the streamer bin it’s game on. Reinforcements are on the way and the bins will be full by the time you get here. ZK’s MK Ultra, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow (JJ or Sculpin), Dirty Hippy in brown, ZK’s Inflated Ego, Autumn Splendor, Skiddish Smolt, Lil Kim, Circus Peanuts and D & D’s are all topping the weekly sales report for what it’s worth.

Traffic is moderate and will continue to increase as we settle into our fall season. Lodging is busy through the end of October but not so busy that we can’t fit you in. Ditto for guide trips. I’d make that call sooner than later though so you don’t miss out on what could very well be the best fall fishing we’ve seen in years.

Don’t miss the fall wader sale going on now at Wolf Creek Angler. 25% off all men’s and women’s waders and boots from Redington and Korkers.

We’re also fully stocked with new cold weather gear from Simms and still have some great deals going on summer gear.